Teaching medical students about cost-effectiveness

Mark Iscoe, Robert Lord, John Schulz, David Lee, Danelle Cayea, Amit Pahwa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Rising and burdensome health care costs have driven interest in the practice of high-value care (HVC) and have inspired calls for increased HVC training across all levels of medical education, including among undergraduate medical students. Context: Classroom-based HVC curricula targeted to medical students have not been previously described in the medical literature. Innovation: We developed and evaluated a workshop comprising a lecture, a small-group exercise and a group discussion to instruct medical students on interpreting cost-effectiveness analyses (CEA), applying CEA to patient care and discussing the cost of care with patients. From January 2014 to September 2015 the workshop was administered to five cohorts, 120 students in total, in the internal medicine clerkships at two US medical schools. Pre- and post-intervention confidence in various domains was assessed with a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 to 4. The overall response rate was 87.9 per cent. The proportion of students reporting high confidence scores (3 or 4) rose significantly (p < 0.01) in each domain: from 16.2 to 76.9 per cent for calculating an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER); from 16.0 to 79.6 per cent for interpreting quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs); from 8.7 to 71.3 per cent for using CEA in patient management; and from 15.3 to 71.4 per cent for discussing costs with patients. Students rated the overall quality of the course as 3.82 out of 5. Rising and burdensome health care costs have driven interest in the practice of high-value care. Implications: Our experience of developing, evaluating and refining an HVC course targeted at medical students taught us that such a course is needed, can be educational and can be well-received. Future research is needed to assess the effects of curricula on clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-28
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Teacher
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Review and Exam Preparation


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